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Exclusive: XFL Could Target 2019 NFL Rookies With Six-Figure Bonuses

Feb 28, 2019 4:20 PM EST
  • The XFL is making a presentation to NFL agents at the Combine on Thursday night.
  • The upstart league could offer 2019 NFL rookies -- some of whom go undrafted -- bonuses worth up to six figures to lure them away from playing in the NFL.

The XFL has a budget to offer high-profile players commitment bonuses, potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if they are willing to give up playing in the 2019 NFL season, The Action Network has learned.

The new league, which begins in February 2020, is not looking to offer 2019 NFL draft-eligible players deals until after the actual draft, but executives have told agents at this week’s NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis that they are willing to spend money to induce first-year players to skip the 2019 NFL season and begin preparing for the XFL.

XFL executives will be presenting to agents on Thursday in Indianapolis to give an overview of the opportunities.

Doug Whaley — the former Buffalo Bills general manager who is now the XFL’s senior vice president of player operations — told The Action Network that the league could also target fringe players, who aren’t drafted and are being offered small free agent signing bonuses.

Those contracts are normally in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. The XFL could also offer loftier bonuses to the players who are cut in preseason camp or at the final cutdown right before the regular season starts.

Whaley wouldn’t name any particular players he has in mind, but the idea is for the XFL to get some of its franchise quarterbacks for the eight teams locked in, instead of picking up a QB whose NFL team didn’t make the postseason and only having one month to prepare.

The XFL plans to have an active roster of 45 players. There will be four salary levels.

  • Tier I Player: One slot per team (most of the time will be a QB). Will make at least $250,000 per season.
  • Tier II Player: Three slots per team
  • Tier III Player: 23 slots per team
  • Tier IV Player: 18 slots per team

Whaley says the commitment bonuses, which are separate from the salary, will depend on how marketable the player is and how soon the player commits.

Players will be offered up to three-year contracts, though Whaley said it was not yet determined whether XFL players who sign three-year deals will have that money completely guaranteed.

Despite talk of the XFL not allowing players to jump to the NFL, outs can be negotiated in contracts, Whaley said.

The Alliance of American Football (AAF), which jumped the XFL by a year, allows any player to leave for the NFL as long as it’s not during the season.

The AAF is currently in Week 4. Viewership numbers and the games themselves have surprised for the most part.

The league missed payroll in the first week due to what it said was a glitch. In Week 2, the AAF announced that Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon had bought the majority of the league and would become chairman.

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